The New England Patriots wrapped up their 2017 mandatory minicamp yesterday. Over the course of three days, the team held three non-contact practice sessions. And while minicamp serves mostly as a teaching tool it still is a piece of the mosaic that will be the Patriots’ final 53-man roster.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the winners and losers from this week’s practices – due to the nature of minicamp with a heavy focus on the passing game.
Winner: WR Brandin Cooks
Great things are expected from the offseason acquisition that has been compared to Randy Moss in the past. While it is unlikely he will duplicate Moss’ record-breaking 2007 season, Cooks seems to be on his way to become a key cog in the Patriots’ offensive machinery: He displayed quickness and good route running during minicamp and in general appeared well-integrated into New England’s offense.
Winner: WR Devin Lucien
Cooks is not the only wide receiver to stand out in a positive way. Second-year wideout Devin Lucien has also left a positive impression. While playing mostly with the backup quarterbacks, he has still been able to showcase good hands, understanding of the offense and work ethic; Lucien regularly was among the players to keep working after practice. He is still a long-shot to make the team but he will not go down without a fight.
Loser: OT Andrew Jelks
Making the team as an undrafted rookie at a deep offensive tackle position is tough. It gets even tougher when you miss the entirety of one of the most important stretches of offseason workouts. Such is the case with Andrew Jelks, who was absent for all three practices this week. While the Vanderbilt product was a long-shot to make the roster, missing minicamp also hurts his chances – for now – of earning a potential practice squad spot.
Winner: CB Eric Rowe
Entering the offseason, Rowe was projected to serve as the Patriots’ number three cornerback. How his role would ultimately look like in light of the Stephon Gilmore-acquisition remains to be seen, however. During minicamp, the 24-year old certainly made a case for playing time, breaking up multiple passes and being competitive in one-on-one coverage.
Loser: TE Dwayne Allen
The former Indianapolis Colt is a lock to make the team, and a sloppy three minicamp days will not change this. It was still disappointing to see him plagued by drops and imprecise route running throughout the week. Those mistakes can and must be worked on over time. After all, the 27-year old is projected to serve as the Patriots’ number two option at tight end this season.
Winner: CB Cyrus Jones
It was not a perfect minicamp for the former second-round pick. Compared to the one OTA session open to the media, though, Jones looked much improved. He was very solid at punt returner, knowing when and how to field a punt and when to let it bounce. He also saw more practice reps at slot cornerback – and while did not stand out in either role, it was certainly a step into the right direction after a disastrous rookie campaign.
Loser: DT Josh Augusta
Josh Augusta is another undrafted rookie trying to earn a spot on New England’s roster or practice squad. However, in order for him to do that he certainly needs to work on his conditioning first. During yesterday’s final session, the 22-year old failed to complete a two-lap run before running out of breath. It might seem hard to call him a "loser" just because of that but such is the nature when trying to make a team – especially one as deep and focused on conditioning as the Patriots.
Winner: CB Jonathan Jones
Last year, Jones went from undrafted rookie to special teams standout. This year, at least judging at this early stage of the offseason, he might be destined to make another jump: From almost exclusive special teamer to rotational cornerback. Jones definitely stated his case during minicamp, being one of the standout performers in terms of coverage and getting his hands on the football.
Winner: LB Kyle Van Noy
Just like Jones, Van Noy got his hands on multiple footballs throughout minicamp; most notable of which a leaping interception during the first day of practices. Overall, he looked comfortable during his first offseason in New England and appeared to be on the right course towards a starting linebacker job next to Dont’a Hightower. Of course, a lot can change over the upcoming months but it is still encouraging to see Van Noy perform well.